Thursday, 7 February 2019

Quote of the day - on the loss of trust in government

We are seeing this play out in places other than the USA - here in Britain, in France, Spain and Germany - levels of trust in government have falled significantly. And the driver may simply be bad government and the manner in which the media reports government:
Starting with the Vietnam War and Watergate, a series of governmental actions served to diminish public trust. Bad behavior by elected officials—including the Clinton impeachment, after the President was accused of lying under oath; the Iraq War, which turned out to have been launched under false assumptions; a failure to defend against foreign interference in elections; and the gridlock that seems to have dominated U.S. political processes in recent years—provided ample grounds for Americans to doubt the effectiveness of their government. And news media that emphasize conflict, scandal and dysfunction could well be contributing to the loss of trust.
You could each write your own list of government's failings and they can apply from the supranational (the capture of the WTO by activists and pharma-funded lobbyists, the corruption of EU decisions around everything from olive oil subsidies to vaping, and the use of UN rapporteurs as political tools) right dow the the local city council (dodgy planning decisions, direction of money to pet schemes, the protection of union interests over services).

Quite how you resolve this is unclear - the Knight Foundation from where that quote comes have, with the Aspen Institute has a valient stab at what might be done through improving journalism, better citizenship education, more open and robust protections online and some work to reduce 'filter bubbles'. But what's missing is what, for me, is the central challenge. Our politicians really aren't good enough, have sub-contracted leadership and administration to the unelected preferring instead the soundbite, the virtue-signally but pointless political initiative and an endless round of carefully staged media events.

The Brexit shambles - lack of planning, endless posturing, personal vendettas, tactical policy positioning purely for party or factional advantage - sums up, for me, this problem. Quite how we get better politicians I'm not sure but boy do we need them.



Anonymous said...

"Bang up the expenses-fiddllng MPs", says cash-in-hand, tax-dodging, fly-tipping, White Van Man

Sobers said...

Simple - stop politics being a career you can realistically expect to participate in within a decade of leaving university. Restrict standing for election (at national level at least) to those who have already had a career doing something else. Allowing the young (ie those in the 30s or even 20s) to participate in politics means you get the very worst candidates putting themselves forward - who in their 20s wants to be a politician other than the abnornmal, the borderline psychopath and the narcissist? Make all those sort of people [cough Blair cough] go away and do something else for 25-30 years, then by the time they can enter Parliament life may have either tempered their youthful psychosis or they'll have found some other area of life to try and dominate other people in. Then the people entering politics will have some grounding, some independence, some life knowledge and experience.

Anonymous said...

Therein lies the inherent conflict - we need people of vision, principle and integrity to lead, but people of vision, principle and integrity don't go into politics these days - they have too much vision, principle and integrity.

Politics is a dirty game and to succeed you need to be a dissembling street-fighter (unless you're Mrs May, in which case you just need to be an automaton administrator, but you can't call her a success).